Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Review of "Die Laughing" by Louis K. Lowy

Buy it HERE!
I've read several debut novels over the past couple of years. Very few have struck a chord with me like Louis K. Lowy's Die Laughing. I had read the first few pages a while back, and knew it was going to be good. This past week, when I finally got the chance to read it in its entirety, I was simply blown away.

The story begins in 1950's Las Vegas. Stand-up comic Sam E. Lakeside's  main goal is to make it to NYC to his booking on the Steve Allen Show. His plans are derailed when a mobster puts a hit out on him for messing around with his girlfriend. The timely appearance of an alien spacecraft is the only thing that keeps him from being "offed".  Unfortunately, for Sam E., things only go from bad to worse as he's thrown into a situation of saving the earth from some oil-addicted extraterrestrials.

I have to admit, I wondered whether a story centered around 1950's TV and aliens would wind up being corny as all get-out. I'm happy to say, I was more than pleasantly surprised. Sam E.'s story unfolds in humorous and touching ways. I found his personal inner demons very poignant. Mr. Lowy did an incredible job with Sam. E's evolution from a shallow, self-serving comedian to a man with a real conscious who puts others first for a change. He cracks hilarious, and sometimes crude or corny, jokes throughout the whole book, which kept me laughing. The other characters in the story--sexy but tough Cricket, smart and skeptical Lee, and slimy villain Francis--really took on a life of their own. Mr. Lowy handled their subplots with seeming effortlessness. And let us not forget the aliens, who can take the form of anyone who's appeared on TV. This aspect alone added a rich complexity of plot development.

Besides the compelling characters, Mr. Lowy writes with a confidence, authority, and command of language that one would expect in a page-turner. The book doesn't suffer from the common problems of poor grammar, typos, or excessive wordiness. Instead, each word, paragraph, and chapter seemed perfectly honed to provide a smooth reading experience.

I had only one very minor quibble with the book, and that was the immense amount of time-period descriptions. No doubt the author did a fantastic job in research. Every item, from Pall Malls to Howdy Doody's wooden lips, gave the story undeniable authenticity. However, at one point, I felt like it was just a tad too much, as though the reader was being constantly reminded where and when the story was taking place. That's really the only thing that could have been toned down.

This book is suitable for adults of all ages, particularly American adults. I don't care if you're not a sci-fi or 50's era fan. You're going to love it. People who grew up during the 50's will appreciate it for the nostalgia of old TV and Sci-Fi movies. It's just a darn good book. Now, go buy it and see what all the fuss is about!

To read more about Louis K. Lowy, please visit www.louisklowy.com or The Writer From Haunted Cave!

To see my interview with Louis K. Lowy, please click HERE!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review of "Imperial Hostage" by Phil Cantrill

Buy Your Copy HERE!
Phil Cantrill's debut novel mixes the magic of ancient Greece with an imaginative fantasy world. I read this book as part of an online book club, and I'm so glad this one was chosen. It follows the life of Prince Erechtheus (Erech) from young boy to young man. Erech begins the book as a "hostage"--sent from his home province to appease the Empire.  He ends up in the clutches of Al-Jinn, high priest of the Temple of Bel. After an old prophetess proclaims that Erech will lead to Al-Jinn's demise, 12-year-old Erech suffers unspeakable abuse. He is rescued at the last minute from ritualistic sacrifice by Kul-Kan, high priest of the Temple of One.

From the relative safety of the Temple of One, Erech finds some life-long friends, though he is still haunted by his experience at the Temple of Bel. These friendships help him overcome and face his anger and fear. His training with Myrine, heir to the Amazon throne, also helps him survive as he faces one after another assassination attempts, fueled by Al-Jinn's obsession to be rid of him.

As the years pass, Erech learns who he can trust and who he cannot. I found his relationships compelling and poignant, especially his romance with Myrine and the strong bond with his friend Herakles. He even has some special animal friends who I hope we see in the next book.

In my opinion, the characters and their relationships were the strong suit here. They were so well developed, that by the end, I felt like they were "old friends", as Herakles would say. Though it's a cast of many characters, Mr. Cantrill really brought them to life and gave them such unique qualities, that I didn't feel overwhelmed at all.

He writes in a third person distant POV, and at first, I found it a little hard to get used to. It didn't take long, though, before the "narrator" style became a smooth reading experience. There was no constant head-hopping or omniscience; it read like a very close commentator as the events played out.

If I had anything to nit-pick, it would be that by the end of the constant assassination attempts, they had a Coyote and Roadrunner feel to them. In the back of your mind, you start to feel sorry for the coyote (Al-Jinn), because he can't catch a bird (Erech) no matter how hard he tries. This was certainly NOT a major issue, however, and since this is only part one, I'm sure we haven't seen the end of Al-Jinn. The ending itself ensures that, but I'll leave it to you to discover why!

Imperial Hostage is the first in a series called The Destruction Series. The book and its plot are appropriate for young adults and beyond. Grab your own copy today!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm Live Again!

Here's the live interview I did a while back with author Desmond Haas. Enjoy my southern accent while I discuss A Ranger's Tale.

Come check me out on Desmond Haas's Romance Radio Network. Click HERE!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Winner of the "What'd Ya Say?" Dialogue Contest!

Congratz to Matt Posner, winner of our 
"What'd Ya Say?" Dialogue Contest!
He'll get a $10 Amazon.com gift card to fuel his reading addiction.

Now, you get to see his awesome entry and why it rang in at 53 votes!

From School of the Ages: Level Three's Dream, a novel coming soon by Matt Posner

Protagonist Simon verbally spars with a man carving a gravestone in a dream world:

“What should it say?” asked the Chiseler.
“Your gravestone. What should it say?”
“That’s not my gravestone. I’m not dead yet.”
“You ought to be.”
“Because it’s your gravestone.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“I don’t make sense,” said the Chiseler. “I make gravestones.”
For more information on Matt and his work:
Book One, School of the Ages: The Ghost in the Crystal Available now:

Twitter  @schooloftheages
Facebook:  search "school of the ages series" 

Friday, August 19, 2011

An Interview with Author Laurie Larsen

Visit Laurie's website HERE!
It's Friday, Friday... Yeah, I'm evil. But, I'll make it up to you by introducing a lovely author with an equally lovely book. Today, give a warm welcome to Laurie Larsen. She's published several books, which you'll have to check out on her website. Her latest release is a contemporary romance called Inner Diva. 

Thanks so much for coming to Unwritten, Laurie! I love meeting new authors. Put your feet up and tell us what you do when you're not writing romantic tales.

Hi Misty!  Thanks so much for having me visit.  I love your website and I’m happy to be here chatting with you on this Friday (Friday, Friday, doot doo!  Ha ha) 

When I’m not writing, you can bet that I’m doing one of just a few other things:  1) working my day job – I’m a Project Manager in the Information Technology field (computer applications) so you know there’s plenty of activity there, 2) watching my younger son play either football or baseball, or 3) wondering when I’ll next see my older son, who is away at college.  Hobbies include reading (of course!), watching movies, going to plays (I must like to be entertained) and walking, either outside with the dog or on the treadmill (by myself).  I also love music, and I enjoy singing with my church choir.  I’m a fairly recent convert from Top 40 pop to country music, and I love live music, so I check out concerts of my favorite artists.

I've been snooping on your website, like all of you dear readers should do right now.  From reading your biography there, I see that writing became a creative outlet for you as a mother of young children. I can totally relate, being a full-time mom of three. Tell us about your writing life now. Have you got a set schedule? Do you like to write in a specific place or have certain things around you like music or coffee?

Yes, I started writing my first book when my kids were 8 and 5, I believe.  I just felt so wrapped up in them and their constant care, that there was no “me” anymore.  Writing seemed to be something that I could do – that I enjoyed, that I was good at – that was completely separate from my job and my family.  Once I started, I never stopped.  I guess I’ve been writing for 13 years now – published for 11.  It’s addictive!

I find what works for me as a writer with a day job, is to write for certain months out of the year, then give myself certain months off – the months that are really busy with other things.  For example, when my son starts spring baseball season, I know I’m going to attend 40 to 50 baseball games between April and July.  Doubleheaders three nights a week, and tournaments on the weekends.  Now tell me, how could I ever make progress on a book during that time?  But my conscience nags at me, all those nights I’m sitting out at the dusty ball field – “You should be writing, you should be writing.”  So I purposely give myself those months off.  Not only does it ease my guilty conscience, it also makes me so ready and anxious to write in August, the ideas just well up in me, and spill over when I finally open up that manuscript.  Similarly, I take off the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas just because of the busy-ness of the season. 

When I am working on a manuscript, I’m ruthless with myself.  I either set an hour goal (90 minutes a day) or a page goal (4-5 pages a day) and I don’t give myself nights off.  My goal is to finish a book a year, and on limited writing time, you can’t take nights off.  I generally write in my “office” which is actually my guest room with my computer desk in the corner.  I have written a book or two on my laptop, and logged some writing hours in my living room and the Barnes and Noble.  But I don’t abide too many distractions – quiet and secluded works best for me.

Let's move on to  Inner Diva. From your website, I see that it took a few years to get this one out there where readers can get their hands on it! Tell us about that process. Did you ever get so frustrated you wanted to give up on this project?

Yes!  My July 2011 release, available on e-book for Kindle and Nook.  Inner Diva was the seventh manuscript I wrote, and I wanted to try something a little different.  Instead of writing a book, then looking for a publisher, I did my research and tried to write a book tailor-made for a specific publisher – in this case, Harlequin.  I researched by reading lots of Harlequin books, scouring the writers’ guidelines for each of their lines, identified which line I wanted to write for, talked to other authors in that line.  Once I knew exactly what that line required, I wrote the book.  Once it was done, I got feedback on it from a Harlequin author and made changes.  Once it was polished and perfect, I submitted to an editor, using (with permission) the endorsement of a published author of that editor.  Very different approach for me!  I had some very promising moments – including an email conversation between me and the editor when he praised my characters and writing style.  But ultimately, after two and a half years without a rejection or an acceptance, and now no communication from the editor, I decided I had to move on.  I made other plans for publishing the book.  Yes, I did get frustrated – VERY frustrated!  Did I want to give up on the book?  Absolutely not.  If anything, I guess I gave up on the publisher.  But I knew Inner Diva would appeal to people and I’m glad it’s now available for those who want to read it.

Looks like your heroine, Monica, is an aspiring actress and a Big Sister to a little girl named Luisa. Was she inspired by any real-life events? What about Carlos? 

Monica was not inspired by any real-life events, although I have to admit I’ve always been tempted to be a Big Sister myself to either a little girl (since I have both boys) or a little boy (who could fit into my family pretty easily).  However, Carlos – I was writing the book the year Mario Lopez was competing in Dancing With the Stars and he was my inspiration for the “look” of Carlos – yum yum!
Click HERE for purchase links!

Your first book, Whispers of the Heart was picked up by the first publisher you sent it to. I had a similar experience with my first novelette. How wonderfully affirming was that news?

Isn't that a fantastic feeling?  I think it’s what convinced me that I had a second book in me, and a third, and a fourth.  If I can do it once, I can do it again.  Becoming a published author was a life-changing experience and I still have to thank that first publisher for making my dreams come true.

You've had several books and articles published over the years. How hard was it to work on your dream while working and mothering full time? What is your advice to other busy moms out there who have toyed with the idea of writing for publication? 

It’s hard, I can’t lie.  You have to be committed to it, and you have to choose other things in your life to give up, to make your time for writing.  People always ask me, “How do you have time to work full time and write books?”  You make the time.  You have 24 hours every day – it’s like putting a puzzle together – how are you going to utilize those hours?  For me, I sleep 7 and work 9.  That leaves 8.  Can’t I find one hour of those 8 to do this thing that I love?  Yes, you can find it.  Maybe you need to skip watching TV in the evening.  Or talking on the phone.  Or Facebook.  J  But if it’s important to you, you’ll find the time.

For other mothers who have toyed with the idea of writing – I’d say go for it!  The reward for making the time to do what you love (in addition to the fun of the writing itself) is huge.  You get the joy of creation, you make great friends in the writer community.  You experience the full spectrum of emotions, from the pain of rejection, to the ecstasy of a contest win.  You get the fun of perfecting your craft, and you reach other people.  I don’t know many endeavors that are more worth the time invested.

Can't let you get away without a random question. So here goes: What's the best costume you've ever worn?

When I was in my mid-twenties, my roommate and I went to a Halloween party dressed as a horse.  I was the front and she was the back!

Finally, Ms. Larsen, would you please share an excerpt from Inner Diva?

Sure!  As you can imagine from the title, Monica has the dream of being an actress, but she’s a behind-the-scenes girl.  Being out front in the spotlight intrigues, but terrifies her.  But she’s always daydreaming about being a star, sometimes to the distraction of her every-day life:

The door of her limousine slid open, and she stuck out a high-heeled foot, pausing to soak in the expectant silence of her onlookers.  With a satisfied grin, she turned in her seat, gripped the hand reaching out to her and left the automobile, standing on the red carpet that covered the sidewalk.  Her silk Versace gown hugged her slim form and floated like a dream as she strolled, gracing the crowd with her best Mona Lisa smile.  Her escort and most perfect accessory slid out of the limo behind her and followed, dressed in his black tuxedo and crisp white shirt, holding her arm protectively.
“Watch out!  Down below, watch out!”
Monica looked up and bolted, barely escaping the onslaught of a huge stage light on its cable wire just inches away.  Steve Phillips, the stage guy on a twenty-foot high backstage platform about two feet square, and one of her best buds, hoisted the cable on its pulley, halting the light before it collided with the stage.  “Got it under control!” he said with the slightest trace of panic in his voice.  Monica suspected he was trying to convince himself as much as everyone else.  “Wouldn’t have let it hit anyone.  Or anything.”
Monica grinned at him.  She’d worked with Steve on several productions, and he was a fun-loving guy who made her laugh.  He drew his hand over his brow with an exaggerated “Whew” gesture and tugged the light back up where it belonged.  She really needed to keep her mind on her work and her imagination under wraps tonight.

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Laurie. I wish you the best of luck!!

Thank you so much Misty!  And Happy Friday!

For more information on Laurie Larsen, please visit:

Website: http://www.authorlaurielarsen.com/index.htm

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

IFWG Publishing: Story Quest Short Story Contest!

Buy SQ Magazine HERE!
From the IFWG Publishing Website:

The Story Quest Short Story Contest at a glimpse
  • Entry is US$5.00 for each short story, to cover administrative overhead costs.
  • One contest a year - Open for Submissions 1 August, closes 31 October.
  • Winners and finalists announced mid November.
  • The contest is restricted to Speculative Fiction, including for Young Adults and children (not infants).  Note contest rules regarding content.
  • Periodically contests will have a broad theme - in these cases stories must adhere accordingly.
  • Submissions must be strictly between 1000 to 3000 words - automatic rejection applies otherwise.
  • The Winner receives $100US cash prize and will be published in SQ Magazine.
  • Second place receives $50US cash prize and will be published in SQ Magazine.
  • Third place receives $25US cash prize and will be published in SQ Magazine.
  • Judges will also identify a short list of non-winning finalists who will also be published in SQ Magazine.

The guest judge is...yours truly!

Send your speculative fiction shorts to the link below (not to me) and read the terms and conditions:

Good luck! ~Mysti

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


What's a writer mama do when it's the first day of school? She gets nutsy and gives away a book! Stop by the CBLS blog, leave your email addy, and you might win a free copy of A Ranger's Tale!

Clicky HERE -->Coffee Beans & Love Scenes: GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: A Ranger's Tale, by Mysti P...: "Winning Wednesday Presents: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Romance Author, Mysti Parker Thank you Liz and the Coffee Beans and Love Scenes team for hosting..."

And just because I love you all, here's a great video to share the joy of the season!

Monday, August 8, 2011

VOTE FOR YOUR "What'd Ya Say? Dialogue Contest" Favorites!

After a long deliberation on the part of my dear hubby, he's narrowed the field from 26 entries down to 10. Since I wanted to remain unbiased, I printed off all entries and didn't influence his decisions in any way.

I did read all of them as they arrived, and was duly impressed. The entries were all so unique and from various genres, I would have had a hard time deciding on finalists and winners. That's why I'm leaving the rest up to you.

Please click on each link to read the short entry and then cast your vote in the poll on the sidebar. Voting is open until midnight on August 22, but may be extended if necessary.

Some of these are from published books, some from works in progress, and all are fantastic. Read on...

Here are your top ten finalists in the 
What'd Ya Say? Dialogue Contest !

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Updates

Because it's...

Glitter Graphics | http://www.graphicsgrotto.com/
Funniest Gifs

Let me update you on some stuffs. First of all, a great big shout out to the Rotary Club of South Oldham County for having me there today on my very FIRST public speaking engagement as an author. Everyone made me feel very welcome, and they served a pretty fine breakfast to boot! Congratz to "Brian", who won a signed copy of A Ranger's Tale for a door prize. 

If you aren't involved in a local Rotary Club, their motto is "Service Above Self". They are involved in many humanitarian efforts of service, one of which is the mission to eradicate polio worldwide. Consider joining your local club or make a donation to fund their projects.

Also, the "What'd Ya Say? Dialogue Contest!" is still open until midnight tonight. After that, I'm turning over the entries to my hubby, who will choose ten finalists this weekend. I'll be posting them next week for you all to cast your votes!

Image courtesy of roseannapiter.com

In other news, my zombie short Herbert's Dilemma, was accepted by Fictitious Magazine to be published in the October issue. I'm happy to have found Herbert and his dilemma a good home in time for Halloween.

Until next time, have a great weekend and read a book or two!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Interview with Author JD Stroube

It's August. It's hot. Not to worry, because we have a cool new author here today. Please welcome JD Stroube, author of Caged in Darkness, book one of the Caged series. 

**One lucky commenter will win an e-book copy of this dark fantasy novel. Just leave your email addy, and I'll draw a name one week from today!**

Here's the scoop on it:

Buy it HERE!
A witch raised in a cage of darkness...

Savannah Cross was born into a life of isolation and abuse. As a child, she witnessed her parents perform acts of malevolent evil, and now feels permanently tainted by their dark deeds.

When a coven discovers a tear stricken child, wounded on their elders lawn, they offer her a sanctuary she has never known. Savannah spends the next several years shattered, continuously looking over her shoulder, waiting for the darkness to claim her.

On her 16th birthday, Savannah’s life takes a drastic turn.She is consumed by overwhelming power that forever alters her emotionally and physically.

She must choose between two loves; the one who taught her to smile or the darkly seductive stranger who tempts her towards another path. Savannah must decide between the coven that was her haven and another one vying for her initiation. Just as Savannah begins to grasp what fate has in store for her, an evil looms over her loved ones; coming to claim an unbreakable debt.

How will she choose and survive the greatest evil she has ever witnessed... long enough to have a choice to make?

Thanks for stopping by, JD! Please tell us a little about yourself--where you're from and what you do when you're not writing dark fantasy tales.

Hi! I’m from Illinois. I moved around a lot until I was nine years old, when I settled in Countryside, IL. I currently live in Naperville, IL. It’s such a beautiful town! I am happily married to the greatest husband in the world (He treats me like a queen). I’m a psychology major and I used some of that knowledge when I created Savannah for Caged in Darkness. When I’m not writing, I am teaching myself how to do photomanipulation. You can see my work on my website. J I also love to read on my Nook and watch television. When I am feeling down, I usually read Witch Fire by James Clemens, visit animals at shelters/shops, or feed the ducks at Graue Mill.

Tell us now about the Caged series. What spawned this idea and did you do any special research into witchcraft or the occult when you wrote it?

A very small percentage of the population has lucid dreams, and I am part of that percentage. That is usually where my ideas come from. Sometimes I get an idea from something random, such as a song or commercial. Caged started as a dream and evolved into a whole new world. Honestly, my original idea was completely different from the final product. I have always found witches and the Wiccan religion to be interesting. I’ve enjoyed reading about it since I was in junior high, which means I already had the knowledge stocked in my mind. J I knew about Divination from when I was a child. My great grandmother taught my grandmother, who taught my mother. It’s probably what sparked my curiosity about Wicca.

I know a lot of writers use what they know to influence their work. Has being a psychology major influenced your writing, and if so, how?

Yes! Being a psychology major has made a huge impact on my writing style. Savannah has a horribly dark past. I take that into account when she thinks about something and the way she reacts to situations.

Back Cover
You have an awesome cover, and I've checked out your cover artist, Regina Wamba. How did you come to meet her, and will you be working with her on your subsequent books?

Regina and I met through Goodreads. We became friends and she offered to do my cover when she learned I was publishing my books. She has done the covers for my next three books as well. I hope that she will continue to do all of my future covers.

Are all of your series in the dark fantasy category? Or will you be delving into other genres?

I like to read many genres and my writing reflects this. Mostly, I will be sticking to dark fantasy, but I will occasionally write in other genres. After Caged, I have a few books lined up. The first is an Urban Fantasy series called Hellhounds. The second is a Paranormal Romance book called The Seven. The third is an Epic Fantasy series called Obsidian. I have some other ideas in the works, but nothing else concrete.

Everyone gets a random question when they come here. Ready for yours? What article of clothing most closely describes your personality?

Wow, I’m not really sure how to answer this one. I suppose it would be a wrap, because they are comforting. I tend to take one with me, because no matter what the weather, I know I can rely on it to keep me warm and still feel good about how I look.

Now, Ms. Stroube, would you kindly share with us an excerpt from Caged in Darkness?

The door opened into a dark foyer with a small den to the right and a large dining room to the left. I thought that once I was inside, the panic would consume me, but instead I felt detached. I couldn’t hear the younger version of me screaming in horror or my parents’ victims begging for mercy. The house was barren, and I was vacant of emotion. My parents had taken everything from me. They hadn’t even left me enough to react to the destruction of my innocence.
The den was where my cage had been kept; it was gone now. Most of the furniture had been sold, but a few items remained. The books were still housed in wall sized bookcases, my parents’ altar was still in the dining room, and a rocking chair leaned in the far corner of their library. These were the only pieces of evidence that someone had lived here.

Thank you so much for coming to Unwritten today, JD! And I wish you much success. 

**Remember to leave your e-mail addy like mystiparker (at) yahoo (dot) com for your chance to win a free e-copy!**

For more information on JD Stroube and her work, please visit:

Facebook Fan Pagehttp://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/JD-Stroube/186338091413684 
Cover Artist Regina Wambahttp://www.maeidesign.com/

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Review of "Tales From Imagination's Closet" by M. Allman

Available now at Melange Books!
This weekend, I finished M. Allman's Tales From Imagination's Closet. You may remember her from an interview back in March HERE. This book is a collection of 29 speculative fiction stories, ranging from macabre to hilarious to bizarre. Many of the tales would qualify as flash fiction, so they made for some nice, short reads when I had a break here and there in my hectic day.

All of them are unique, and Ms. Allman employs a straightforward, easy style that one can easily jump right into. My favorite story of them all was "Assailant". It had me laughing out loud. You'll never look at Frosty the Snowman the same way again.

The only things I tripped over were some editing issues. In a few stories, "Tom" became "Tim", and other typos halted the pace. Otherwise, it was an enjoyable read, and I'd recommend this collection for anyone who likes to enjoy some short tales in their hectic days. But don't take my word for it. Pick up your own copy today!